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To the Moon! Team California Claims 2018 PGA Jr. League Championship presented by National Car Rental

By PGA of America, 11/20/18, 2:00AM EST


Championship Rookies Team Minnesota Finish in 2nd Place; Team Texas Captures 3rd Place; Louisiana places 4th

Congratulations, Team California! (Darren Carroll/PGA of America)

For photos of the PGA Jr. League Championship presented by National Car Rental, click here

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (Nov. 19, 2018) – As the moon rose above Grayhawk Golf Club, Team California (San Diego – Encinitas Ranch Golf Course) went undefeated at the 7th PGA Jr. League Championship presented by National Car Rental, to capture the team’s second crown and the fifth for the Golden State.

California’s Zander Grant, 13, of Rancho Santa Margarita, California, drained a downhill 5 ½-foot putt on Hole No. 9, to clinch the national title over Team Minnesota (Blaine – TPC Twin Cities) 7 ½ to 4 ½. California finished 6-0 in the Championship and Minnesota posted an impressive 5-1-0 clip in its first Championship.

“It felt great,” said Grant. “It was a little scary, because it was straight downhill and sliding to the right. But it felt good, just like the putt I made on Hole No. 6 to win the flag.”

This is a familiar feeling for Team California (6-0-0) Captain John Mason, PGA, and Coach Jackie DeWald-Mason. They previously led their team to victory at the 2015 Championship at Disney’s Palm Course in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

“We’ve gotten better and better each month, and this is the culmination of it all,” said Mason. “We’ve been looking forward to this for a long time. And, what a great team Minnesota was.”

The highlight of the match came early when Minnesota's Cash Dragich, 14, of Blaine, made a remarkable chip off the side of a hill from 80-feet out. The ball rolled along the ridge and into the cup for an eye-popping eagle. California answered the bell with a remarkable 30-foot eagle of their own by Ryan Abuan, 14, of Temecula.

California took control with a 5-3 lead after six holes, needing only a point and a half to clinch. They would move the score to 6-4, before Darren Ho, of San Diego, hit a 130-foot approach shot to 5 ½ feet to set up Grant’s glory.

“That was the dagger,” said Mason. “That was what won it right there.”

The team went into celebration mode, as the customary water bottle shower turned into a race to stay dry down the 18th fairway, as the sun set along the McDowell Mountains.

California team member Jay Leng, Jr., 13, was the sole returning competitor to the current team. His teammate Karen Tsuru was just 10-years-old when her older brother, Daina Tsuru, helped California win the title three years ago. Now, she’s holding the title, too.

“This win means everything,” said Tsuru, 13. “My brother played in 2015, and I wanted to be like him and win. I’m pretty excited to bring the news back to San Diego.”

In the third place match, Team Texas (Montgomery) edged Team Louisiana (Shreveport) 8 ½ to 3 ½. The two-time Championship competitors attributed much of their success this weekend to their chemistry as a team.

“Between Ben [Willman, PGA, Captain] and I, we had a lineup set last night,” said Texas Coach EJ Kim, PGA. “We completely [called an] audible on it. We said the chemistry has been great, so we're just going to go with what we had this morning, and let the kids have fun.”

Team Minnesota, deemed tournament underdogs from the start, battled their way to the top of the Wanamaker Division with a clean 5-0 record in Divisional Play. It was their grit and determination that earned them a spot in the Championship round Monday afternoon. Though they clinched their Championship berth the day before, Minnesota added another win to their belt Monday morning, defeating defending champion Team Georgia 6 ½ to 5 ½.

“We’re really proud of them all,” said Minnesota Captain Jay Norman, PGA. “They played outstanding all week… We’re rookies, so we live and learn.”

Despite coming up short, Minnesota relished the experience.

“This has been amazing,” said Minnesota’s Kathryn VanArragon, 13. “We didn’t know what to expect coming here, it was our first time. It was absolutely incredible.”

Read More: Team Minnesota’s Kathryn VanArragon shining bright on PGA Jr. League Championship stage

On the final day of play, there was a hole-in-one by Team Virginia’s Rylan Shim, 13, who aced the picturesque, 118-yard Par-3 Hole No. 8 with a pitching wedge.

In the morning matchup against Team Delaware that Texas won 8 ½ to 3 ½, Texas’ Finn Burkholder holed out from 140 yards for an eagle.

“I didn’t see it go in, because I’m not tall enough,” said Burkholder. “Everyone went crazy. I didn’t know it went in, but I put my hands up thinking it did.”

While the Woolsey and Camp Fires have not directly impacted the team, Mason remarked during the week that a win could be a shining light in the dark.                                   

“If we can give them something to cheer about and feel good about, it always helps.”

Golf Channel to Air PGA Jr. League Highlight Show Dec. 4
Each of the last two years, PGA REACH, Grayhawk Golf Club and National Car Rental have worked together with Golf Channel to air a two-hour, primetime special highlighting the event. This year’s show will debut on Dec. 4, airing at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and 12:30 a.m. ET/9:30 p.m. PT. 

Ryder Division Standings (FINAL)

**California (San Diego): 6-0-0 Record, 49.5 Points

**Louisiana (Shreveport): 3-2-1 Record, 36 Points

Virginia (Dulles): 2-1-2 Record, 33.5 Points

Ohio (Columbia Station): 2-2-1 Record, 33 Points

Washington (Bellingham): 1-4-0 Record, 22 Points

Connecticut (Harwinton): 0-5-0 Record, 17 Points

*Won Championship and Division Title
**Finished in 4th place overall

Wanamaker Division Standings (FINAL)

#Minnesota (Blaine): 5-1-0 Record, 42.5 Points

##Texas (Montgomery): 5-1-0 Record, 47 Points

Georgia (Duluth): 2-2-1 Record, 35 Points

Illinois (Lemont): 2-2-1 Record, 29.5 Points

Delaware (Wilmington): 0-4-1 Record, 21 Points

Arkansas (Hot Springs): 0-4-1 Record, 18 Points

#Finished in 2nd Place overall/Won Division Title
##Finished in 3rd Place overall


News & Notes!

Golden State Warriors All-Star and two-time NBA MVP Steph Curry and Olympic Gold Medalist and FIFA Women’s World Cup Champion Alex Morgan were just named the newest PGA Jr. League Ambassadors. They join Ambassadors Rory McIlroy, Michelle Wie, Rickie Fowler and Lexi Thompson, all of whom are committed to growing youth golf.

For a video of the announcement of Steph Curry and Alex Morgan becoming PGA Jr. League Ambassadors, please click here.

The off-course star of the show is PGA Jr. League golfer Warren Fisher, 11, of Riverton, Utah. Fisher has been an onsite correspondent and cub reporter for social media and Golf Channel reports. The suave and debonair son of PGA Professional Annie Fisher, Warren serves as a junior ambassador for PGA Jr. League, with his fun and hilarious updates from the Championship. Fisher regularly hosts "The Warren Report" for the Utah PGA Section. He dreams of being the next David Feherty as an on-air sportscaster. He also talks about becoming President of the United States one day. His political goals are why he regularly wears a bow tie and is dressed to the nines in a tailored suit.

Presenting Partner National Car Rental hosted a fun and relaxing reception at Topgolf Saturday night that was open to all Championship players and their families.

Below are PGA Jr. League Championship presented by National Car Rental yearly results:

Year: Champion, Score, Host Facility/Location

  • 2018: California (San Diego), 7 ½ to 4 ½ at Grayhawk Golf Club (Scottsdale, Ariz.)
  • 2017: Georgia (Duluth), 6 ½ to 5 ½ at Grayhawk Golf Club (Scottsdale, Ariz.)
  • 2016: California (Livermore), 8 to 4 at Grayhawk Golf Club (Scottsdale, Ariz.)
  • 2015: California (San Diego), Playoff (1st hole) at Disney’s Palm Course (Lake Buena Vista, Fla.)
  • 2014: California (San Ramon), 7 to 5 at TPC Sugarloaf (Duluth, Ga.)
  • 2013: Georgia (Atlanta), 6 ½ to 5 ½ at TPC Sugarloaf (Duluth, Ga.)
  • 2012: California (San Francisco), 8 ½ to 3 ½ at Cog Hill Golf & Country Club (Lemont, Ill.)



Darren Ho, 11, Spring Valley

James Whitworth, 14, Carlsbad

Jasmine Kahler, 13, Carlsbad

Jay Leng, Jr., 13, La Jolla

Karen Tsuru, 13, Carlsbad

Matthew Broder, 14, San Diego

Nathan Moore, 13, San Marcos

Phillip Kench, 14, Del Mar

Ryan Abuan, 14, Temecula

Zander Grant, 13, Rancho Santa Margarita


Andrew Ramos, 12, Blaine

Benjamin Solum, 14, Blaine

Carter Spalding, 13, Woodbury

Cash Dragich, 14, Blaine

Jake Birdwell, 12, Blaine

Justin Luan, 13, Woodbury

Kathryn VanArragon, 13, Blaine

Nathan Appelhof, 13, Blaine

Parker Sands, 13, Woodbury

Sam Udovich, 11, Inver Grove Heights